‘Siamese twins’ feel the energy

Tinashe Farawo recently in Livingstone, Zambia —
It is going to take Dr Ben Carson and other bright sparks in surgery a century to figure this one out. In any case, by then, the twins would have reached dotage, providing more complicated matter to feed medical minds.

Christened “Siamese twins” by President Mugabe, Zimbabwe and Zambia are hardly conjoined in the literal sense.

But their peoples share commonalities that pretty much fit that description.

I was reminded of this poignant point as top Government officials from both countries converged here for the Batoka Gorge Investment Conference last week.

The conference centred on the massive US$4 billion Batoka Gorge Hydro Scheme which will provide electricity to the two nations which continue to walk step-in-step well after the colonial federation that brought them together under common parentage.

The meeting of minds was exceptional.

A common thread of understanding regarding how the project could spur industrialisation and broader economic transformation could not escape one’s attention.

After all, can Siamese twins not think alike?

The 2 400MR hydro scheme is among Africa’s biggest, producing electricity at roughly USc3,5 per kilowatt on completion.

Dam construction (2018-2022) alone will create at least 6 000 jobs which will be shared equally between the two countries.

And once the project is complete, 1 200 citizens from the two nations will be employed permanently.

The hydro project is likely to keep the unity between Zimbabwe and Zambia firm just as the Zambezi River has for decades.

“I wish to take this opportunity to mention here that our two countries will always endeavour to work together on projects of mutual benefit because of our long cordial relationship that has existed for many years with regard to the management of our water bodies,” said Zambia’s Vice-President Inonge Wina.

“As governments, we look forward to your support, which will enable the commencement of this very important project for the benefit of most of the countries in the southern and east African regions.”

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told The Sunday Mail: “The power station is a move towards sustainable growth, and regional power self-sufficiency.

“Power remains an important driver of development; without it, there is limited development to talk about.

“This will guarantee massive employment creation for both Zambia and Zimbabwe.”

Minister Chinamasa’s energy counterpart, Dr Samuel Undenge, added: “The presence of Zambia’s Vice-President and six ministers shows the two countries’ commitment to the project, which dovetails with the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, whose crafting His Excellency, President Mugabe, superintended during his tenure as Sadc Chairman.

“Conference acknowledged that goals set out in the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap cannot be achieved without adequate energy supply.

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon us as ministers of energy to see to it that the required energy is available.

“The Batoka Gorge Hydro Scheme will impact positively on the people of Zimbabwe and Zambia and the entire Sadc region. It received a major boost when investors expressed willingness to provide the required US$4 billion. Transmission projects are critical to evacuate power from generation sources to various load centres within the region. A lot of transmission constraints are affecting power trade among Sadc countries. In 2016 alone, 66 percent of energy was available for trade on the competitive market, but could not be traded due to the said constraints.”

African Development Bank vice-president Mr Amadou Hott weighed in saying: “The achievement of this goal would directly contribute to the bank’s objective of 160 GW of new generation by 2025. We thank the two countries for the trust they place in the bank, and we will mobilise all our instruments including loans, grants, partial risk guarantee, legal support as well as technical support for capacity building.

“We have been appointed as the lead co-ordinator for this project, which we will execute in partnership with other development partners such as the World Bank which has supported the preparation of the feasibility studies and the environmental and social impact assessment studies. We shall work closely with commercial banks committed to this project.”

The project will cement relations between the two nations, making them inseparable that even gifted hands will not be able to tear them apart.

Perhaps some things were just meant to be.

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